Two Clarksville property owners say they feel betrayed about plans to rezone 25 nearby acres for non-retail commercial use.
County planning director Joseph W. Rutter Jr. told the landowners, who have farms behind a commercial strip along Route 108 near Route 32, two weeksago that he intended to include the property in the Department of Planning and Zoning's comprehensive rezoning proposal for western Howard County.
Edmond C. Holweck, one of the affected property owners, said he thought the adjoining property would be used as a "receiving zone" where 18 to 20 houses could be built at higher density than in other rural portions of the county.
Instead, Rutter chose the other option suggested -- a commercial business park serviced by an interior road.Many of the businesses along the strip now use private driveways to enter and exit Route 108.
The 37-acre property, owned by Brantly Development Corp., is currently zoned rural, one house per three acres. The comprehensive rezoning petition calls for making 25 acres "planned office research" -- non-retail commercial -- and the other 12 acres "B-2," retail business and commercial.
The comprehensive rezoning proposal will be presented to the Planning Board on Jan. 9.
Rutter said a planned office research zoning would not only provide a buffer between the current commercial strip and the farmland behind it,but would also make each new project there subject to public hearings.
Since most non-retail businesses close by 6 p.m., they would not be as "intrusive" to Holweck and farm neighbor Frank Cockrell as retail establishments that are open evenings, Rutter said.
Neither Holweck nor Cockrell buy that argument.
"There's a glut on office space," Holweck said.
"I don't believe that land would stay undeveloped long. They can always come in for another (zoning) change."
Cockrell agrees. "It ain't good planning," he said.
"Where you gonna get the water? That's what everybody's asking. It's going to put tremendous pressure on (bringing) water and sewer" across Route 108.
The Brantly, Cockrell and Holweck properties are now served by wellsand septic systems.
The Rouse Co. property across the street is served by county water and sewer and will become the site of the RiverHill village center.
Cockrell has enlisted the support of Highland activist John W. Taylor in his campaign to stop the planned office research zoning from occurring. Taylor led a successful fight againsta Clarksville bypass three years ago that he believes was instrumental in ousting M. Elizabeth Bobo as county executive.
"Rutter may be submitting the zoning petition, but Ecker is driving the ship," he said.
"This has the appearance of appeasing special interests. It was the Bobo bypass, and it's gonna be the Charles I. Ecker office park."
"It really irritates me that this gives (Brantly Development Corp.) a huge financial asset, and they don't haveto give anything back," he said.
The Holweck and Cockrell properties are in the county's farmland preservation program.